Ten blocks of mobile homes and cheap apartments sit just east of Fairchild Air Force Base, in an area named an “Accident Potential Zone.” If airplanes from Fairchild crash, in other words, they could go down in the area where hundreds of people live.
But moving them isn’t easy — these are very low-income residents. In response, three local nonprofits — Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities and Community Frameworks — have partnered to purchase property in the accident zone, and then build 100 new apartment units and 60 new houses to lure tenants away.
“There will be no forced relocation,” says Tobby Hatley, a spokesman for the project. “The whole goal is to reduce the density.” In surveys of residents, he says, most say they’d move if they had a better place to go.
But first, the groups need funding. The entire project would cost about $31 million, and the coalition hoped it could be partially funded by the Housing Trust Fund, a state funding stream used to build and maintain affordable housing.
But when the House produced its list of recommendations for Trust Fund projects, legislators listed 31 projects and 27 alternates. The Fairchild relocation projects were not included. Without help from the Fund, relocation could be delayed, Hatley worries.
“They prioritized certain target populations,” says Janet Masella, director of the Housing Trust Fund. “They identified farm workers, persons with chronic mental illness, homeless veterans, and people with developmental disabilities.”
Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, helped to create the priority list. “The game’s not over yet,” Dunshee says. The House and the Senate still have to make their budgets line up. “If there’s a significant effort from the local legislators, it might still happen. It’s a possibility.”